CRPF not leaving Valley, says Omar

7 July 2009
The Hindustan Times
Aurangzeb Naqshbandi

New Delhi: The Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) may have been pulled out of Baramulla after massive protests but they will not be withdrawn from Jammu and Kashmir, for the time being. The reason, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said, is that the state police lack adequate numbers, equipment and training to replace the central paramilitary force. While 72 battalions of the CRPF comprising 41 per cent of the total security force are deployed in J&K to fight militants and maintain law and order, the state police comprises only 25 battalions. We need 50 more battalions, which means about 50,000 personnel, to completely replace the CRPF with the police in J&K, a state government official told HT on condition of anonymity, as he isn't authorised to speak to the media. This will take time. Omar said withdrawal of the CRPF would not take place immediately as the state police are not ready to fill its shoes. There is a need to augment and strengthen the police force in terms of manpower, equipment and training in order to reduce the presence of paramilitary forces on law-and-order duties within the state, he said. Omar held meetings with PM Manmohan Singh and Home Minister P. Chidambaram on Monday where it was decided to draw a comprehensive plan for augmentation, replacement and redeployment of paramilitary forces in the state in a phased manner, with the objective of finally handing over the baton to the J&K Police. Omar requested Chidambaram to sensitise the CRPF about the situation in the state. Maintaining there was no place for excessive and arbitrary use of force, he, however, said the state government is determined to act under law against those disturbing the peace.